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Electric Cars Vs Gas Cars 2023: Old Habits Die Hard

If you don’t own an Electric vehicle (EV), you’re missing a lot.

I confront this fact over and over when I talk to gas car owners (which is, obviously, most of America).

Question: Have you ever thought about buying an EV?

Answer: Yes, but it won’t go long distances. Anyway, I’m used to my car, I like it, and I don’t want to change.

The answers are actually more complicated than that but that captures the essence of what I hear over and over from average (non-enthusiast) car owners.

The problem (almost invariably) is they don’t listen to my rejoinder. Their eyes glaze over and they tune me out. In their minds, EVs are not practical or reliable — or, in the case of young people, affordable (a legitimate concern).

Attitudes are changing but…

Yes, EV ownership is on the rise in the U.S. EV registrations jumped this year.

But the fact remains: the vast majority of Americans will never know the true benefits of an EV until they actually own one. And that means they won’t switch anytime soon.

That takes a leap of faith.

I faced this moment of truth back in 2013, when I got (leased) my first EV: a Chevy Volt. I had to sell my lumbering SUV (for reasons I won’t go into here) and the closest car dealer to me in Los Angeles was a Chevy dealer.

“It’s a harebrained idea but it can’t hurt to test drive one,” I thought. (And it didn’t hurt that the dealer had a photo of Jay Leno buying a Chevy Volt there.)

The dealer was kind enough to let me take it on a long test drive — alone. I drove about 50 miles, out of Los Angeles County into Ventura County and back.

I was stunned. I never knew a car could be so quiet yet so fast at the same time. And I had never experienced that kind of torque.

And the regen! This was a total surprise. Even the first-gen Volt had good regen (regenerative braking). Taking the long descent on Rt 118 into Simi Valley…it was like getting free gas.

That’s when it hit me. This is a completely new paradigm. A complete departure from the 100-year-old, decrepit (imo) energy-guzzling paradigm.

I leased the 2013 Volt and have been driving EVs exclusively ever since.

Here’s what you don’t understand until you actually own an EV:

  • Clean: no lubricants leaking/dripping on the garage floor.
  • Clean: When it’s cold, I can start (warm up) my EV in the garage with the garage door still shut. I would asphyxiate myself if I did that with a gas car.
  • Quiet: I don’t care if you drive a Lexus or a Bentley, nothing beats the vibration-free silence* of an EV when pulling out of a garage.
  • Regen: As I mentioned above, it’s free energy. In 2022, gas cars seem especially stupid when you’re driving on a long downhill grade (e.g., Interstate 5 outside of Los Angeles) and quietly adding energy while gas cars keep blithely guzzling away fuel.
  • Maintenance: I went for over two years without any maintenance on my 2013 Volt — another pleasant surprise I never expected (think: no oil changes).

Other more-well-publicized reasons include:

  • Fast: from 0-60, EVs (think: Tesla) will beat most muscle cars.
  • Cheap “fuel”: I can “fill up” (recharge) my EV for about $15, which gets me about 240+ miles of range. Try that in a gas car.

Downsides:

Most car consumers are already aware of the most salient downsides:

  • EVs are expensive
  • EVs don’t have the long range of gas cars
  • EVs lack the refueling (charging) infrastructure

But I would argue all three of those are changing rapidly for the better.

  • The 2023 Chevy Bolt (with about 26o miles of EPA rated range) now starts at under $27,000 (despite some isolated predatory pricing by dealers trying to take advantage of the EV supply shortage).
  • EV range will only get longer as battery technology improves.
  • Tesla has a well-established national charging network while Electrify America has been building charging stations at a furious pace across America.

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NOTES:

*My neighbor owns a high-end Acura. Despite being a “quiet” car, it still produces a small seismic event — via engine vibration — every time she pulls out of her garage.

Comments can be sent via DM to mbrookec.

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